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父母该不该插手子女的MBA申请?

John A. Byrne 2014年04月17日

一对总在头上盘旋、过分插手孩子事务的父母会让人担心申请人是否有能力独立完成MBA课程并胜任毕业后要求严格的工作。

    今年一月的一个午夜,正好是哈佛商学院(Harvard Business School)第二轮招生截止日期前夜,电话响了。

    MBA申请咨询公司Clear Admit的招生顾问史黛西•奥伊勒早已习惯在这个时候接到客户电话了。毕竟多年来她一直都是这么为世界各地各个时区的MBA申请人服务的。

    不过这个电话有所不同的是,它是奥伊勒已经服务了好几个星期的一个MBA申请人的母亲打来的。这位母亲表示,从她孩子申请开始,她就复印了申请人和招生顾问之间往来的所有电邮。

    她说:“我正好就是个律师。”但当奥伊勒建议她儿子的申请材料中不要放进哈佛进修课成绩单时,她却并不同意。

    奥伊勒有点难以置信地表示:“她指责我,说我因为没放这张成绩单把申请搞砸了。这就是现在一些父母对MBA申请的投入程度。”

    这位母亲表示,这个最后关头的电话是她丈夫催着要打的。奥伊勒称这位父亲“已经不想再多听儿子申请的所有细节问题了,所以催着她打给我”。挂电话前,这位母亲请奥伊勒别跟她儿子说她插手了这事。奥伊勒回忆称,还有一次她接到一位母亲的电话,希望她知道她儿子在犹太赎罪日(Yom Kippur)前的晚上是不接电话的。

    当然,“直升机父母”(helicopter parents,总在孩子头上盘旋,替孩子做各种规划的父母——译注)早就不是什么新鲜事物了。至少过去十年里,在孩子申请大学的过程中,这些父母一直就在事无巨细地包办到位:帮孩子准备SAT考试,修改申请信——有时候还亲自捉刀。在孩子挑选要申请的学校一事上,他们也起着主导作用。而且他们基本上总是会在开学时陪孩子入学。

    而十年后的今天,还是这些父母,又开始在他们业已成年的孩子——25岁到28岁不等——的研究生入学上倾注同样的心血。招生顾问称,近年来他们发现父母介入的程度大幅提高。有时候,这些父母会跟着自己的成年子女到大学参加咨询会、招生面试,甚至陪他们去新生录取接待周末(AdmitWeekend)。奥伊勒称:“在他们的子女面试时,他们就在校园里逛。”

    奥伊勒最近离开了MBA招生咨询公司去了一家猎头公司。她表示:“我不知道是不是只有这一代孩子才这样。他们从小到大都有人撑着,就是那些终极直升机父母。所有重大决定都会有妈妈搀和,但这些父母其实很少能真正帮上忙。”

    不管这些父母是如何好心,他们往往没什么能耐真能帮得上子女。MBA招生咨询公司The MBA Exchange的创始人兼首席执行官丹•鲍尔指出,MBA招生流程“和大学招生有很大不同,只有在大学招生时大家才希望并鼓励父母参与。”他表示,有时候父母会装成自己的子女,给他的公司及学校直接发邮件、打电话。

    The call came in at midnight on the eve of Harvard Business School's round two admissions deadline this past January.

    Stacey Oyler, an MBA admissions consultant for Clear Admit, was used to getting late-night calls from clients. After all, over the years, she has worked with prospective MBA students in time zones all over the world.

    But what made this phone call different was that it was from the mother of an MBA applicant Oyler had been working with for weeks. The mother explained that she had been copied on all the emails between the consultant and her client from the start of the engagement.

    "I'm just a lawyer," the mother explained. But she disagreed with Oyler's advice not to include in her son's application a transcript that showed the grade of a Harvard extension course he had taken.

    "She accused me of screwing up by not ordering a transcript," says Oyler in disbelief. "That is the level of investment some parents now have in graduate admissions."

    The last-minute phone call, the mother noted, was prompted by her husband, who, says Oyler, "was tired of hearing about every detail of their son's application and urged her to call me." Before the woman hung up, she asked the consultant not to tell her son that she had intervened. Another time, Oyler recalls, she received a call from a mother who wanted her to know that her son wouldn't be available after sundown just before Yom Kippur.

    Helicopter parents, of course, are not a new phenomenon. For at least a decade, parents have become deeply involved in their children's undergraduate admissions process. They help prep them for the SAT. They edit -- and sometimes write -- their essays. They play a key role in selecting the schools to which their children apply. And they almost always accompany them on campus tours.

    Ten years later, those same parents are now equally invested in the decisions of their grown children -- from 25 to 28 years of age -- to go to graduate school. Admission consultants say they have noticed a significant increase in parental involvement in recent years. In some cases, parents are tagging along with their adult children to campus for informational sessions, admissions interviews, and even admit weekends. "They'll go to campus and walk around while their son or daughter is being interviewed," says Oyler.

    "I don't know if it's just this generation or what," adds Oyler, who recently left MBA admissions to join an executive search firm. "They've been propped up their whole lives, and these are the ultimate helicopter parents. Every major decision has to involve the moms. Rarely are they helpful."

    No matter the intentions, parents are often ill-equipped to be helpful. Dan Bauer, founder and CEO of The MBA Exchange, an MBA admissions consulting firm, points out that the admissions process "is very different than undergraduate admissions, in which parents are expected and encouraged to participate." Bauer says that in some instances parents have actually pretended to be their sons and daughters in email and telephone communications with his firm and with the schools (see his recommended Do's and Don'ts for Parents).

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